- Food and drinks
- Main course Pre-made finger foods usually work best and give you more time to relax at the picnic.
- Caution foods Avoid dishes that use mayonnaise because it has a tendency to spoil.
- Dessert Consider easy to eat, ripe and in-season fruit or easy to grab cookies or brownies for dessert.
- Condiments Pack the basics: ketchup, mustard and salt and pepper. Find small picnic sized containers or make your own.
- Drinks For children, bring what you know they like to drink best. Adults should be happy with soda or beer. Just be sure to have enough bottled water for everyone. Try to avoid any drinks that come in glass bottles.
- Grills Unless you plan to use an already provided grill or bring your own Hibachi.
- Plates and eating utensils Throw-away will make your clean-up more simple. Also include a cutting knife and small cutting board.
- Cups Use a size plastic glass that allow enough room for ice and the beverage.
- Napkins Bring plenty including a roll of paper towels and antibiotic wipes.
- Storage containers
- Coolers Have one for drinks and lot of ice and another for perishable food.
- Baggies It is difficult to beat the convenience of a Zip lock bag, but stackable plastic containers also fit well in an ice chest.
- Tables and chairs If you must bring your own picnic table, find a lightweight fold-up style with a few chairs for adults.
- Beach umbrellas Bring along small beach umbrellas that attach to a chair for instant shade.
- Beach chairs These are more comfortable than sitting on a blanket.
- Change of clothes. Accidents and spills happen!
- Something warm Nights can get chilly so take a jacket or sweatshirt for everyone.
- Hats. This can help prevent sunstroke
- Bathing suit If you plan to go swimming or just lay out for a tan, you will need your swimsuit.
- Fun activities
- Games If your picnic is a family event you kids will have hours of fun with well planned activities like Frisbee, volleyball, badminton, Wiffle ball or even a scavenger hunt for younger children.
- Books For the less athletic who want to relax, make sure they bring a book of magazine.
- Basket Preferably, one designed for a picnic.
- Sunscreen Find an easy to use spray with minimum SPF 15.
- Insect repellent Non-toxic sprays are handy to use. Also, if your picnic goes into early evening, bring citronella candles with a sturdy base.
- Flashlight Not just a must for early evenings, but the kids can have fun using it to look for bugs.
- Garbage bags You will need these if you picnic in an area without trash any receptacles.
- Bottle opener Only necessary if you bring glass bottles.
- Wine opener If wine is in your cooler, do not forget your wine opener.
Treating your family to a picnic in the great outdoors is an inexpensive form of entertainment. Your children will have lots of room to play, you get a little relaxing time to breathe fresh air, and even Fido will reward you with serious tail wagging. A picnic is also a romantic way for couples to spend time together if they choose an out-of-the-way spot without a lot of foot traffic. Not only do you get to enjoy the relaxing sounds of nature, but you can also reconnect with your spouse over a well chosen bottle of wine or learn more about an interesting new, and budding relationship. One thing about a picnic that can diminish the experience is if you forget to bring something important along. In most picnic settings, running to a nearby store is not an option. While some people like to throw what they can find in the refrigerator into a basket and then run out the door, even a simple picnic experience will go smoother with a little pre-planning and organization.
One of the most common items left at home can quickly turn into the most important should you find ants walking across your table or mosquitoes are feasting on your arms and legs, so don’t forget the bug repellent.
If the weather is really hot never underestimate the importance of having enough ice. Another strategic detail is finding the right picnic location. If you choose a park operating on a first-come basis, then getting there early ahead of the rush means you will not be stuck sitting in the sun all day at the table no one else wanted. You may even have to book ahead if you are planning a special event requiring the use of a pavilion or other picnic area facilities.